Sierra Leone Citizens Worried Over Repeal Of Death Penalty
The repeal of the death penalty has caused disturbances in the minds of many citizens describing the decision by government as “untimely”.
Many people, who spoke to this medium, said it was necessary for the death penalty to remain as law so that it could serve as deterrent to those who commit intentional acts of murder.
“Repealing the death penalty will give license to wicked people who will commit murder or treason and rely on presidential pardon after being sentenced for life” said Sulaiman, a business man in Kambia.
Sheku Kamara, a retired civil servant, stated that the failure by government and Parliament to consult widely before the repeal makes their move very unrealistic.
On the other hand, Human Rights Groups have welcomed the what they describe as “watershed” achievement by the Government and Law makers to expunge the death penalty from the law books.
Parliament recently repealed all laws and trials leading to the death penalty with the intent that it would improve on the human rights credentials of the country.
In justifying their action some Members of Parliament (MPs) referred to cases in which the law had killed people who were innocent of the charges against them. Some of the victims of what they referred to as harsh penalty were the late Brigadier David Lansana killed for misprision of treason, FM Minah for treason and Bambay Kamara also for treason. The law makers said the innocence of these people was proven after they had faced the gallows.
In an effort to water down the harshness of the death penalty, Parliament repealed the law which made persons found guilty of crimes punishable by death sentence to be entitled to appeal. The Legislators considered that twenty-two soldiers found guilty of treason were killed without any chance to appeal.
“I was a small boy when the Mammy Yoko street murder occurred” said Abdul Sesay of Patton Street, Freetown. He was referring to the case of one Unissa who was killed in cold blood at Mammy Yoko Street in the early 1970’s.
Unissa was killed by his own friends and the country was going to cry down the government of the late Siaka Stevens if the death penalty was not applied in that case. Before this, there had been the Wellington Street murder in which the victim was killed in his home by armed robbers. Even though the death penalty was applied in the Wellington Street murder, there were doubts in the minds of many who thought the government was telling lies. And so when the Mammy Yoko Street murderers were hanged, their bodies were displayed at the Pademba Road prison for all to see. Justifying the penalty, the late Sam Metzger wrote in the WE YONE newspaper “Hanging without remorse…. THE BLOOD OF UNISSA CRIED.
Another case which is still fresh in the minds of people is how a government Minister Khazali was involved in ritual murder. There was also the case of Alhaji Tokowa who was also involved in ritual murder.
“Of course there are instances in which the law had been bad, but again there were reasons why it was necessary” opined Solomon Vandi, a school teacher.
By Abadi Amadi
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